Friday, May 24, 2024

Blinken calls for US, China to manage differences ‘responsibly’

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Thursday on the United States and China to manage their differences “responsibly” as he went on a charm offensive ahead of expected tough talks.

A day before meeting Beijing’s top brass, Blinken visited the bustling metropolis of Shanghai where he sampled local food, watched a basketball game and strolled along the city’s famous Bund promenade on the busy Huangpu River.

Visiting the local Communist Party leader in a reception room with sweeping views of the Shanghai skyline, Blinken said President Joe Biden was committed to “direct and sustained” dialogue between the world’s two largest economies after years of mounting tension.

“I think it’s important to underscore the value — in fact, the necessity — of direct engagement, of speaking to each other, laying out our differences, which are real, seeking to work through them,” Blinken said.

“We have an obligation for our people — indeed an obligation to the world — to manage the relationship between our two countries responsibly,” Blinken said.

The Chinese Communist Party secretary for Shanghai, Chen Jining, welcomed Blinken partly in English and spoke of the importance of US businesses to the city.

“Whether we choose cooperation or confrontation affects the well-being of both peoples, both countries and the future of humanity,” Chen told him.

Shanghai, the country’s financial capital, is often a stepping stone to power in China, with President Xi Jinping previously serving in the city. 

China has not announced plans for Blinken to meet Xi, although on Blinken’s last visit in June they saw each other in a meeting announced at the last minute.

Blinken, the first US Secretary of State in 14 years to visit Shanghai, opened his trip Wednesday evening at a restaurant serving steamed buns. 

Sporting a tieless suit, he ate with his senior staff outside on wooden chairs in a shopping arcade as curious onlookers snapped pictures.

Blinken then went to a basketball stadium, watching a nail-biting playoff game between the Shanghai Sharks and Zhejiang Golden Bulls until the end.

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